From practising Japanese in Salzburg to working in Tokyo
Software developer Sabrina is a huge fan of Japan. When she heard about the “Work From Any Group Location” programme, she immediately packed her bags and spent two exciting months in Japan.
Sabrina, 41, is passionate about the Japanese language and culture. She regularly goes to meetings of a Japanese–German language practice group in Salzburg to improve her skills – alongside her job as a senior software engineer. Sabrina has been working at SKIDATA for 13 years and deals with software design, programming and troubleshooting, among other things. Originally from North Rhine–Westphalia, Salzburg was already a big step. Japan seemed impossibly far away.
This all changed when Sabrina heard about SKIDATA’s new “Work From Any Group Location” programme. This scheme offers employees the opportunity to work abroad in a SKIDATA host office for one to four weeks. They carry out their normal duties in consultation with management. Sabrina was immediately excited by the idea: “I figured that if I’m on site for a while, I can develop my language skills.” She immediately informed her department head and the planning began.
Sabrina’s daily routine in Tokyo was similar to that in Salzburg. She continued to work on her projects in her team: “I was able to act quite independently, as I also work from my home office twice a week in Salzburg,” she says. Sabrina handled the seven-hour time difference by planning important meetings with her team in Austria for the late afternoon, when her colleagues in Salzburg were just starting work. She spent her lunch breaks with a Japanese colleague exploring restaurants in the vicinity of the SKIDATA office near the Imperial Palace. “I really miss the food,” says Sabrina. One evening, the team went to a karaoke club together after work.
Sabrina lived in a shared flat in a quiet suburb of Tokyo. “You didn’t notice that you lived in such a large metropolis,” she says. Her commute to work by metro and on foot took 40 minutes. To avoid rush hour, she was the first one in the office in the morning. She is still impressed by how well the public transport system works in Japan. The trains are always on time and offer fast and reliable travel, even over long distances. The high-speed Shinkansen train takes only two and a half hours to cover the 500 kilometres between Tokyo and Kyoto. There was never any reason to rent a car in Japan.
During her stay in Tokyo, Sabrina benefited from the Japanese public holidays, including Golden Week in May, which gave her extra days off. She also took her official holiday time in connection with her stay, visiting an acquaintance near Nagoya, among other things. The rest of the time she travelled alone: “This was the first time in my life that I planned and undertook a large trip alone. In Japan, you can travel around alone as a woman without any problems, because crime is practically non-existent.”
Sabrina’s itinerary took her to various cities and sights, from the mountains near Nagano to the traditional imperial city of Kyoto, with its distinctive houses and the impressive Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine. Other highlights of her trip were Nara, the majestic Mount Fuji and the memorial in Hiroshima. Thanks to her language skills, she quickly connected with people. “The Japanese are usually rather reserved,” says Sabrina. “But as soon as you speak to them in Japanese, they open up.”
Sabrina’s stay in Japan was a complete success: “When I arrived home, I could have got back on the plane right away,” she says. Sabrina was particularly impressed by the friendliness, politeness and helpfulness of the people in Japan, as well as the contrast between modern and the traditional areas. “I would do the Work From Any Group Location programme again any time,” she says. “It’s a real advantage to working for an international employer like SKIDATA.”